Arteta Knows Best (AKB) when it comes to the future of Arsenal players

Yesterdays blog about Reiss Nelson generated a lot of discussion across our social media.

Some pointed out that “Nelson had more than a good 10 seconds, he was good for 25 minutes”. And yes, he was very good when he comes on. But it is those final 10 seconds that got everyone talking about him.

He does not score with the last kick, then I do not think anyone would be having a discussion this week over a new contract. All talk would be over us dropping two points.

So the title of the blog very much stands as it is those 10 seconds that got us talking about his new deal.

It was interesting to watch the opinions come in, and for me it shows how reactionary some fans are.

Plenty were supporting him getting a new deal, with many saying how good he had been when called upon this season and how it was obvious Mikel Arteta liked him.

He has played just 85 minutes of Premier League football in 26 games. That is 85 minutes out of a possible 2,340. So what some fans are saying is that he has been good for 4% of the total available minutes this season. Not exactly something to be boasting about?

Also Arteta has only selected him for 4% of the available minutes. I would say that shows Mikel does not rate him.

But moving the conversation on, if Reiss stayed, what would our attacking options be?

Gabriel Jesus
Eddie Nketiah
Folarin Balogun
Bukayo Saka
Gabriel Martinelli
Leandro Trossard
Emile Smith Rowe
Reiss Nelson

That would be 9 options for 3 positions.

Now at this point some will be saying “we need strength in depth if we are in the Champions League”, and they are right.

Most top teams will have 2 top players for every position. As it stands we would have 3. Far too many. At most, we need 7 in those positions..

So who would be the 7?

Jesus, Martinelli, Saka, Trossard are the gaurantees. You will only find weirdos sitting in their mums basement who would argue against those 4. So from the remaining 5, who remains?

Nketiah or Balogun

I have made the argument a few times that we do not need both Nketiah and Baologun.

We play one up top, so we only really need 2 out and out strikers, and then perhaps a winger who can also play down the middle.

Most top teams adopt this approach. Think Haaland and Alvarez at Manchester City or Kane and Richarlison at Spurs. These are then backed up further by “wide forwards” who play down the middle. We have that option in Trossard.

A lot of those who want Nelson to get a new deal are also calling for Balogun to “get a chance”. That would indicate to me that they would rather have Balogun than Nketiah. I can not agree with that.

Nketiah has done nothing to deserve to be dropped. And Balogun has not proven that he would be a better option.

If we are looking to replace Nketiah, we should be getting in someone we know is better. Ivan Toney or Ollie Watkins for example. We do not know if Balogun is better.

I would keep Nketiah. I would also cash in on Balgoun whilst his value is high rather than loan him out.

Emile Smith Rowe

For some time I have felt that this could be Smith Rowe’s last season with Arsenal.

He has a poor injury record going back to his academy days. I would not be surprised if we cash in on him if a high enough bid comes in.

Smith Rowe is an intelligent boy who can play left and right. He is also an option at 10. Some also think he could also play as a false 9. If he stays fit his versatility could be an asset.

And if he stays, he would be the 6th man on the list.

Jesus, Saka, Martinelli, Trossard, Nketiah/Balogun, Smith Rowe.

Now at this point, we would have our two players for every position. We could go into next season with just these 6.

Reiss Nelson or Marquinhos

So do we keep Nelson around as 7th choice? Or keep Marquinhos?

I have seen some say “give Nelson a 2 year deal with an option for a 3rd”. These people do not live in the real world. They forget a player has to agree a contract.

Others have said “give Nelson a 5-year deal and loan him out”.

If you are 23-years-old, have already had two loan deals, and a 3rd loan deal is being proposed, then you are not going to make it. A new 5-year deal in that situation would only be prolonging the agony of all parties.

Now some will say “sign Nelson to a new deal and send Marquinhos on loan again”. I am not sure about this.

We are basically discussing moving a 19-year-old back out on loan to accomodate a 23-year-old as your 7th choice forward.

Considering Nelson also takes up a squad position, it makes little sense to me.

At this point, I would put forward a new signing.

You let Nelson leave, sell Smith Rowe, and then invest in someone who is bette (and more reliable) than the pair to cover for Saka. And if that player can also play down the middle, it is winner winner.

I think this is a realistic option for next year.

We are desperate for cover for Saka, and right wing is not the best position for either Smith Rowe or Nelson. We would be sacrificing two injury prone players to then bring in someone without a questionable fitness record. And that player could also be an option upfront.

So for me next season? I would go:

Martinelli Saka
Trossard NewRW

That would then give us the 6 front line attacking options we need, as well as a 7th choice development player.

We improve on this season by buying better players that what we have. And in that forward line, Nelson and Smith Rowe are the two we could easily upgrade on.

Mkight wrench the heart selling Hale End boys, but we are in the football business to win trophies.

If you have not made it 6 years after making your senior debut, then you are never going to make it.

As someone else said to me Monday:

Just back Arteta’s decision. If he wants to keep Nelson, a new deal will be offered. If he does not, then we need to back his decision. Arteta Knows Best.

Tomorrow we focus on the Europa League. A game where Nelson will be given the chance to shine.



4 thoughts on “Arteta Knows Best (AKB) when it comes to the future of Arsenal players

  1. Vs.

    @keenos,you have no idea how happy i am that you are not even a member of the coaching staff never mind being the manager (on God no cap).


  2. XiNi

    Isn’t it funny you think Sambi needs a run of games but not Nelson.
    “If you have not made it 6 years after making your senior debut, then you are never going to make it” yet you’ve referenced Yaya Toure playing in a not-so-good league at 23 but still made it enough to be referred to as a legend. And there are many more examples. Now, I agree that saying Nelson should get a new deal based on the last game is/was mainly emotional but you can’t deny there’s a chance of us making something from him in the future rather than going for free. We’ve been bad at outgoing deals and letting Nelson go for free isn’t a good idea to me. Since he wants a new deal, the club doesn’t have to pay the 60k you mentioned. He knows he’ll only be a squad player, hence he won’t get paid more than Holding who is on 40k.


  3. nwm

    I have several comments, but none are specifically about Reiss, I think he is gone unless he absolutely explodes in the next few games. First, you included Smith Rowe as one of the nine forwards for seven places, but recent rumors suggest the coaching staff sees his eventual position as left 8, so he may not be pushing for one of the forward positions. I understand the concerns about his injury record, but he may not belong in the forward discussion.

    Re Marquinhos, he absolutely has to go out on loan again, he has to play games and he’s not going to play as the seventh forward. He got some game time in the Europa League this season, but Arsenal will be in the Champions League next season, he’s not playing in Champions League games.

    Finally, re Balogun, if he ends up scoring 20 plus goals this season, are you still in favor of selling him while his price is high? When young forwards break out with double digit goal seasons, they are generally telling you who they are, and you can expect more of the same in the coming years. His goals have carried a team that was generally regarded as destined to be in the bottom half of the table, if not in the relegation zone, to the the safety of the middle of the table. He is also much more comfortable on the Wing than Nketiah. Maybe Arsenal loan him out again, but selling him before they know exactly what they have is a fools errand.


  4. Mike Ram

    Out of the nine players, Arteta can still loan out Balogun and Marquinhos next season for further development. Just like what happened to Saliba. It worked wonderfully before didn’t it? The current 7 players should be maintained for all 4 fronts for next season.



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